My dog has diarrhoea, what should I do?


Diarrhoea is a common problem in dogs, mostly because they will put almost anything in their mouth. Most cases are not serious and resolve within a few days. 

What is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is faeces that are soft to liquid in consistency. Your dog may strain to pass faeces and you may see blood, mucous, parasites, or foreign objects in the faeces.

Possible causes of diarrhea

The most common cause of diarrhoea in dogs is scavenging, eating things such as table scraps, or sudden changes in diet.  Other causes of diarrhoea are infection, parasites or disease. 

What can I do if my dog has diarrhea?

The following guidelines can be used if your dog appears bright and well in himself.  If the diarrhoea is accompanied by other signs such as profuse vomiting or lethargy please consult your vet.

If your dog is not vomiting:

  1. Remove all food and limit your dog to just water for twelve hours.  Make sure your dog has plenty of water to drink, to avoid dehydration.
  2. Introduce small meals - a couple of mouthfuls - of a bland diet (such as cooked chicken or white fish and rice). Once the faeces starts to become more formed, gradually reintroduce your dog’s normal diet.   

If your dog is vomiting mildly:

  1. After this time, allow your dog to have small amounts of water hourly (a few tablespoons at a time) but continue to withhold food for a further 10 hours.
  2. If the vomiting has stopped, continue as step 2 above.  If your dog is still vomiting call your vet.

When to call the vet

  • If your dog is lethargic or not responding to you as normal
  • If your dog is vomiting frequently
  • There is blood in the vomit or faeces or if the vomit has dark specs in, or if the faeces is dark/black and sticky  
  • The diarrhoea is severe (profuse, frequent episodes)
  • The diarrhoea has been going on for more than 24 hours.

How can I prevent my dog from getting diarrhea?

There are several ways to reduce the incidence of diarrhoea in dogs:

  • Avoid sudden changes in your dog’s diet.
  • Do not give your dog bones (these can cause constipation or diarrhoea).
  • Do not give your dog small objects to play with.
  • Do not feed your dog table scraps.
  • Try to prevent your dog scavenging when out and about.
  • Always keep him up-to-date with his worming and vaccinations. 

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more
about what to do in an out of hours emergency.